PhD Research Position in Economics of Higher Education
Catholic University of Leuven

LEER is a research and education center of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the KU Leuven. We aim for independent state-of-the-art academic research on educational issues with economic tools (see


As lifelong learning becomes increasingly important, a growing number of individuals does not stop studying after the initial graduation, but pursues degrees in higher education, adult and entrepreneurial education. Using administrative data, this PhD research project studies the impact of similar additional degrees.
Besides its policy relevance for lifelong learning, the question is academically relevant as the conventional practice in the literature to measure the returns to schooling is to consider education as a continuous variable measuring the number of years of schooling and ignores the role of studies later in life.
Moreover, higher education institutes have become increasingly selective in accepting students. In particular selection ‘at the gate’ has become even more important (Sneyers & De Witte, 2017; 2018). For example, in 2017-2018, there were approximately 40 university programs in the Netherlands with a numerus clausus (i.e., a quota system where a fixed amount of students is allowed to start the study program) and eleven small-scale intensive programs (including university colleges) operating a selection process based on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Despite their popularity, little is known about the returns on the labor market of similar selective programs.


Using administrative data, the PhD research aims to answer the following research questions:
(1) What is the impact on labour market outcomes of obtaining a degree in adult education?
(2) What is the impact on labour market outcomes of obtaining a degree in entrepreneurial education?
(3) What is the impact on labour market outcomes of selective programs in higher education?


The Research Center ‘Leuven Economics of Education Research’ (KU Leuven) is looking for an enthusiastic and motivated junior scholar to conduct a PhD in economics. The candidate should have the following qualifications:

  • You hold an EU MSc degree in Economics, Business Economics, Commercial Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mathematics, or similar.
  • You have a keen interest in scientific research on behavioral economics, financial well-being, and more generally in education economics.
  • Having at least ‘cum laude’ during master years.
  • You have (starter) skills in statistical, econometric and quantitative data analysis and experience with statistical packages; and are keen on developing these skills further.
  • Enthusiastic and motivated to do research.
  • You are proficient in English; your knowledge of Dutch might be an advantage.
  • You have very good scientific writing skills.
  • You are a team player that is able to work independently.
  • Successful candidates are required to enter the PhD program in economics of the Faculty of Economics and Business of KU Leuven (see Tupplement your previous studies, the candidate is required to take on an individual “doctum colloquium” consisting of courses from the Master of Science in Advanced Studies in Economics. Students who have obtained a Master of Science in Advanced Studies in Economics degree from KU Leuven with honors or higher will be exempted from this doctum colloquium.


  • The candidate is expected to prepare a PhD at the LEER research group under the supervision of Professor Kristof De Witte. 
  • We offer a competitive full-time PhD scholarship. The position is for 4 years, conditional upon a positive evaluation after 1 year.
    We offer additional benefits in terms of health insurance, reduced public transport prices, free bicycle use, access to university sports facilities, …
  • KU Leuven offers opportunities to follow academic, skills and career training courses.
  • Working in an attractive international environment.
  • You are expected to participate in seminars and will occasionally be involved in teaching activities including supervision of exams.
  • Start date – October 1, 2019. 
  • Once the PhD study is completed, you receive a PhD in Economics.



Interested?  To apply for the position, please prepare the following documents:

•    A curriculum vitae
•    An overview of your study results (certified copies of diplomas and transcripts).
•    A letter of motivation (max. 500 words): all applicants must provide a letter of motivation.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Kristof De Witte, tel.: +32 16 32 66 56, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 19, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
    • Employment percentage: Voltijds
    • Location: Leuven
    • Apply before: April 19, 2020
    • Tags: Economie

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Interdisciplinoxy


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